News Outlets, Commentators Cover Release of RAND Report Finding Positive Effects From Principal Pipelines


​​Here’s a round-up of news and commentary about the April 8, 2019, launch of the RAND Corporation report Principal Pipelines: A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools. The report, which examines the impact of a strategic approach to school leader development in the six large school districts that took part in Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative, found a positive impact on student achievement and principal retention.

  • Education Week: Investing in Principal Talent Pays Off in Higher Math and Reading Scores, Study Finds (Readers may need a subscription to see the full piece)
    • “Principals who’ve had attention at every point in their development as a school leader—including selection, preparation, hiring, placement, and coaching after they are on the job—were linked to stronger reading and math achievement and to longer tenures in their jobs at the helms of schools,” the article says. It shares insights from superintendents in the pipeline districts as well as The Wallace Foundation’s Director of Education Leadership Jody Spiro.

  • Education Week: Paying for New Principal Talent With Title I Money? New Study Says It's Possible (Readers may need a subscription to see the full piece)
    • “Districts and states looking to invest in principals and school leaders, particularly as a strategy to improve schools, may be able to tap into federal Title 1 funds to help foot the bill,” according to this item in Education Week’s District Dossier blog. The piece discusses an analysis of how the RAND principal pipeline research fits into Every Student Succeeds Act requirements for evidence of effectiveness.

  • Hechinger Report: Study Finds That New Principals Can Boost Student Achievement — With a Little Help
    • Hechinger Report offers an in-depth analysis of RAND’s findings on student achievement benefits and principal retention. “Drawing clear lessons that are useful to school leaders is challenging but this study could be a potentially influential document in persuading school districts across the country to spend money on this ‘principal pipeline initiative’ and enable them to pay for it with federal funds earmarked for poor students,” columnist Jill Barshay says. “That’s why it’s important to understand exactly what this research did and didn’t find.”

  • Learning Forward: The Principal Pipeline Initiative – Unpacking the Effects
    • Frederick Brown, a former Wallace staffer who represented the Learning Forward educator professional learning organization at the New York unveiling of the RAND report, was impressed by the “buzz in the room when these results were shared.” He also talks about the new questions to be answered. “For example, in [the pipeline] districts, what professional learning strategies for principals and principal supervisors were utilized? What are implications for new principals vs. experienced principals? How does this information help systems concerned about closing achievement gaps among students in various demographics?”

  • Marketplace Morning Report: Are principals the key to better schools?
    • This report looks at what the pipeline meant to school leaders in one of the six participating districts, Prince George’s County, Md., outside of Washington, D.C. Among them is Nicole Isley-McClure. On her first day as principal at High Point High School in 2016, the drop-out rate was 11 percent. By the end of her second year, it had fallen to 5 percent. Isley-McClure credits this to the principal pipeline initiative, which gave her a year to shadow another principal in the same district.

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Principal Pipeline Has Positive Effect on Schools
    • Gwinnett County, outside Atlanta, was another of the six participating districts in the pipeline effort. Pam Williams, principal at Gwinnett’s Bethesda Elementary School, shares her insights on how the training, mentoring and support she has received have enhanced the possibility of her success on the job, and Gwinnett County superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks explains why leadership matters.

  • Education Dive: Principal Pipeline Districts See Stronger Student Achievement Gains, Retention
    • Implementing a "cohesive" package of activities made the difference in improving the recruitment and retention of school leaders, according to this article. It quotes Jody Spiro, Wallace’s director of education leadership: “These pipelines are systemic, strategic, districtwide strategies to change systems in order to use leadership as a lever for improving student achievement, particularly in the lowest-performing schools,” she says.